Occasional Thoughts

8th October 2018


I decided a short while ago not to write a blog. I didn’t think I would have much to say that anyone would want to read. On Thursday however, something happened that changed my mind instantly. That something was an incredible achievement which was rather little to do with me.


Two brothers with profound & multiple learning disabilities had sleepily been taking it in turns to play the soundbeam sensors that were pointing at their heads, each had a very different instrument to play so that they could recognise what exactly their contribution to the sounds filling the room of the lounge of this private home was.


The session was almost at an end; they had been taking it in turns for almost an hour & although they had both played reasonably well, they were clearly getting tired by this stage.


Without expecting much reaction, I suggested that they could both play together & that it could be a contest between them as to who played the most. Incredibly, they both leaped into action, turning their heads far left & right with loud giggles and vocalisations, creating a crescendo of sound the like of which I had never heard in that room before.


After about 5 minutes of this marvelous effort I decided to call a halt as although they were still so very excited & animated I felt they would get too excited & hot.


I wanted to write this as I thought their incredible achievement should be recorded somewhere, I didn’t want to keep it to myself or the parent who witnessed it with me.


I am wondering just how much and how often I underestimate someone's level of understanding. I think it is must be better if I over estimate. I'm not really talking about verbal understanding here, I think that maybe my performers comprehended the spirit of what I was suggesting. Also, I think that occasionally it is worth setting up a joint performance with any group of performers, just in case.

28th November 2018

My first 2 visits this week were extremely positive. The first was described as an 'upbeat session' by a staff member and I certainly enjoyed the enthusiastic participation of all young people involved. Everyone stayed for the whole session and showed their preference for different sounds and instruments. I can see excellent progress with one young man in particular.

Yesterday's visit left me in awe of the enormous effort made by all participants in spite of such devastating problems. In all cases their spirit triumphed over adversity. 

Lastly, I need to note that the two brothers  mentioned last month are performing together fantastically well. It is great to see a smile on the face of one of them as I arrive each week. The other is soon laughing as he plays his favourite sounds.

16th January 2019

Last week I had the opportunity to run a session with a young man with Down Syndrome. He was very happy to be able to play the Soundbeam on his own as last time he had to share. He was able to take his time and explore his movements and the relationship between them and the resulting sounds. Not really grasping the principle at first he slowly made progress and by the end of the session I can report that he had precise control of one of the beams, much to his very evident delight and amusement.

Sometimes, in fact most of the time, we need time to explore and experiment. Pressure from the expectations of others can affect our performance. Allowing freedom can be very enabling. The young lady who accompanied this lad patiently showed the way many times over without interfering with his performance. 

31st January 2019

Last Thursday a comment from the parent of a performer reminded me of the main reason Soundbeam is so essential to many of my clients. It provides a very rare opportunity for them to do something entirely independently. Not only that, but to create art, to perform music totally independently.

14th May 2019

The 2 brothers I work with each week are always exceeding my expectations. Apart from the occasional sleepy or unwell session they are enjoying pushing themselves to the limit and enjoying their achievements enormously.

I have recently given several trial sessions and am pleased to report much enjoyment from staff and residents alike. Often approval for visits seems to fail at management level which is a shame.

My regular visits are continuing and both myself and performers are constantly learning how to best utilise them.